Ocean Cleanup claims 50 percent plastic removal from Pacific by 2023

The Ocean Cleanup Project in the Pacific Ocean will start sooner and work faster, than initially planned founder Boyan Slat announced on Thursday. "We will start the cleanup early next year", the 22-year-old inventor and environmental activist said. "Within five years we will have cleaned up 50 percent of the plastic waste.", ANP reports.

The project was initially set to start only in 2020. But recent major donations, totaling in nearly 20 million euros, mean that it can be accelerated. Slat and his team of 65 experts also made a breakthrough in the technology last year. "We discovered how the cleanup can be better, faster and cheaper", Slat said.

The cleanup system consists of two 2 kilometer long arms floating on the ocean. It uses the natural ebb and flow of the water to stop floating plastic and guide it to a central collection point, where a ship collects it once a month. The waste is then recycled and sold. 

The biggest problem - how to anchor the system 2,000 kilometers from the coast - was solved last year. The team initially planned to anchor the system to the sea bottom. But the researchers discovered that a large object in a lower layer of seawater provides sufficient resistance to hold the cleanup system in place. 

The Ocean Cleanup's first goal is to clean up the biggest patch of plastic soup in the world - between Hawaii and California. Once that is dealt with, other waste areas will get a turn. Slat predicts that the oceans will be completely clean before the second half of this century. "We can get the plastic out faster than it flows in."